Ready for some full transparency? It might seem a little ironic, but I’m writing this blog about exhaustion while feeling extremely exhausted. The good news is, I know why I’m exhausted and what I need to do to fix it. I can also help you identify the cause of your exhaustion. If only life were always so simple.

Despite what you may be thinking as you look at the lead image, the answer has nothing to do with your coffee & Red Bull intake. Although, if you find yourself needing multiple cups or cans every day to survive, it might just be another sign that you are exhausted and need this blog. You can breathe a sigh of relief.

The #1 reason you are exhausted.

Everyone feels exhausted now and then. Maybe there’s a deadline approaching, and you need to put in extra hours to meet that goal. Maybe you have little ones at home that prevent you from getting enough quality sleep.  There are numerous reasons you could be tired. I’m talking about those moments when you are even more exhausted than usual, like those times you are exhausted and it’s only 10am.

Have you noticed the most common response to “how are you” seems to be “busy” these days?

The answer to solving your exhaustion is not just about quantity, but quality. It’s not about how much you are doing, but how much you are doing that:

  1. You enjoy doing
  2. Uses your innate talents, strengths, and gifts

Think about something you love to do.

Maybe you enjoy brainstorming new ideas and being creative. You get lost in it, spending hours at a time coming up with new concepts and fine-tuning them. You are energized by the process.

But, you’re boss tells you to stop dreaming and focus on developing a budget in an excel spreadsheet and focus on all the details first. The idea of this exhausts you. You consider going home sick because you just struggle with the day to day, minute details.

The #1 reason you are exhausted is because you are too busy working outside of strengths and doing things that drain your energy instead of recharge it.

It is not about time management or multi-tasking.

Stop talking about time management or multi-tasking. Please.

Some people may say the answer to exhaustion is to manage your time better or find ways to multi-task so you can get it all done. While that may be necessary at times, it really doesn’t solve your exhaustion.

Again, think about some things you hate to do. Maybe digging deep and learning about something completely new and foreign to you sounds exhausting. Maybe you hate thinking about where you are going to be in 15 years because you simply want to live in the moment. If I tell you to multi-task and set up a strict schedule where you listen to podcasts about planning for retirement and how best to play the stock market while you get in your daily 10,000 steps, you may have managed your time well. However, now you dread getting your exercise in because the podcasts are completely unappealing and drain your energy. (Wait, you love this example? I am sure you can give me an example of what drains you!)

It’s about energy management.

At Partner2Learn, we teach the importance of energy management as it relates to your strengths. (Learn a little about the process here.)

Once you complete the assessment and a custom coaching session, your results will help you understand many things, including:

  1. What environment do I need in order to thrive?
  2. How do I work best?
  3. What value do I bring to a situation?

As you begin to understand these components, you will start to easily identify why you are so tired.

Here is a chart that helps you see that when you perform activities that align with your top 8 strengths (the left side), you can seem to have limitless energy. Think about the days you work 14 hours and you still seem to be bouncing off the walls.

It takes 20% effort or energy to get 80% of the work done if you work within your strengths.

However, we often find ourselves doing the exact opposite. If you work outside of your strengths, it takes 80% effort to get 20% of the work done. That’s why certain tasks can frustrate you and drain all your energy, yet you have little to no results to show for your draining energy.

Let’s analyze why I am exhausted.

Let me use my personal situation to help you start to identify why you are tired.

First, let’s understand a few of my strengths and what they mean.

  1. Focus – a traction strength that is focused on achieving a goal. Progress is important. Changing goals constantly is frustrating.
  2. Relator – an interpersonal strength focused on building lasting relationships with few individuals, rather than building new relationships with many.
  3. Discipline – a lifestyle strength that prefers order, structure, and routine for optimal results. Having to constantly adapt to last minute changes is challenging.

Partner2Learn uses the CliftonStrengths assessment to learn your top strengths. We provide custom, proprietary results that categorize your strengths into 8 categories instead of Gallup’s 4 domains, which is why you may not recognize the categories I mentioned (traction and lifestyle).

Secondly, let’s unlock what my Focus, Relator, and Discipline strengths mean when it comes to any situation.

  1. I thrive best when my environment is structured and routine. This means that I don’t enjoy constant changes to my schedule, especially last-minute changes. While they are a part of life, I work best when I can have my own consistent routine with limited changes.
  2. I work best when I can build lasting, meaningful relationships while aiming toward a specific goal. Having to meet a lot of new people and have potentially superficial conversations are draining.
  3. The value I bring to a situation include creating traction to start new projects with the goal in mind. If the goal is constantly changing or there is a lot of ambiguity, I can find myself stalled, unsure what I should focus on.

I’m exhausted because I’m working outside of my strengths.

Once you understand your strengths, you can build a mindset and language around who you are and how you can operate to your fullest potential. When you notice you are more exhausted than normal, PAUSE. Pause and ask yourself why. What were you doing? How can you change that to preserve your energy while being more efficient and effective?

2020 has been a year like no others. I had to pause recently to ask myself why I was so exhausted while, in all honesty, I wasn’t as busy as other times in my life. I should be refreshed because I’m not flying all over the country and hustling from back to back to back meetings.

The answer is that I have found myself working outside of my strengths more often than not. While I prefer a structured routine, I have found my schedule often upended with people rescheduling last minute and making me feel completely discombobulated.  The constant changes also make it difficult to set and achieve goals because they seem to keep changing. Also, with fewer in-person meetings, I find it harder to build those solid relationships over Zoom.

Now what?

I can’t control everything, even though my Discipline strength would prefer it. I have to accept that my schedule will change. I need to have a list of “plan b” options so that when my schedule for the day suddenly frees up for a few hours, I have a plan of what my next goal is.

I also find myself reaching out to people in my contact list with who I already have a good connection. For me, I recharge when I can learn more about them, how they are navigating Covid, lockdowns, social distancing, or whatever their community is throwing at them. I can hear how they are winning and celebrate with them. I can take tips back to our clients. That depth in discussion kickstarts my motivation.

What’s draining your battery?

Does this help you identify what might be draining you? Or, give you an idea how you can recharge your battery everyday and increase engagement in what you love?

Like anything, energy management takes focus. If you need help providing clarity to the chaos, contact us today. You will be surprised how much more you can accomplish with a StrengthsFirst mindset.